Lynne Rae Perkins Biography


Lynne Rae Perkins's life has been as quirky and independent as those of her characters in Criss Cross. When she and her husband were first married, they lived in northern Michigan in a house on top of a hill that took 104 steps to climb—and that started as a small shack her husband built. Besides being at the top of a steep hill, the shack had no telephone, electricity, or even running water; they had to carry water uphill.

Perkins became a children’s author almost by accident: by bumping up against a person and an opportunity. She had been trained as a visual artist (Perkins has a BFA in printmaking and an MFA as well) and was interested in illustrating children’s books. However, in 1993, when Perkins visited a conference organized by the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (she drove 600 miles to do so while six months pregnant) the art director of Greenwillow Books reviewed Perkins’s art positively but encouraged her to also write her own stories.

One can see Perkins’s life everywhere in her work. Her dog Lucky is the basis for the dog in her children’s book Snow Music. She experienced the distant, spontaneous crushes on and from others that trouble the characters’ hearts in Criss Cross and, specifically, the stories told by Rowanne and Debbie in the next-to-last chapter. At times Perkins communicated with others in her own town as obliquely, and she sees life (and art) as following a kind of Zen path. She prefers to go through life with a diffuse focus, waiting for that which spontaneously appears, rather than forcing things.